In fictional works, the woman warrior is typically portrayed as a strong
female personality, determined in pursuit of her goals. She is often seen
performing heroic tasks such as fighting wars and fending off attackers.
In real life, very few women are engaging in physical fights, but most
are facing their fair share of daily battles. That's why Hilton Head Island
fitness instructor, Angela Ellis, is on a mission-to empower both men and
women to meet the demands of everyday life with the fierce determination
of a warrior. "I'm not here to try to teach them to go out and get into a street
fight. It's about gaining a stronger sense of themselves," she said.
While Angela isn't out to slay dragons or win titles, "Cardio Fight Club"
(kickboxing) participants at Palmetto Athletic Club agree she is "a force to be reckoned with." As a roomful of sweat-soaked women (and a few brave men) follow her lead, punching and kicking freestanding bags to the hard-driving beat of her "motivational music," Angela circulates, cuing the moves and shouting, "Do it!" And they do!
Angela is a natural when it comes to teaching fitness classes, but it wasn't exactly how she envisioned herself making a living. Describing herself as "a dichotomy of masculine and feminine," she explained, "As a very young girl, I could go out and ride dirt bikes, but I always had to have the right outfit and the right shoes. I was all about being sure everything went together and was coordinated."
Attending the University of Kentucky and dreaming of a career in fashion,
she was sidetracked by a summer romance on Hilton Head Island. Moving
here in 1987 and taking a job with Sea Pines Company, she has since lived out a different dream, featuring marriage and motherhood. Although Angela still enjoys fashion, as evidenced by her stylish gym outfits and put-together look, she has found a higher calling. Her fitness career has allowed her the flexibility she needs to continue performing her most important job-to be there for her two sons-while keeping in shape and making a positive difference in the lives of others.
Angela got her first taste of kickboxing as a group fitness participant in the
mid-'90s. In 1999, one of her favorite instructors invited her to attend the
East Coast Alliance World Fitness conference in New York City. It was there that she met former world champion middleweight boxer, Michael Olajide, Jr. along with Powerstrike founders, Ilaria Montagnani and Patricia Moreno, all of whom sparked her interest in the sport and ultimately inspired her fitness career.
"Going to that conference was all it took for me to fall for this whole boxing,
kickboxing genre of fitness," said Angela, who went on to earn certifications
in AeroboxÆ and Powerstrike. "I absolutely love the high energy of it and the empowering feeling. It makes me feel like a warrior princess!"
Showing exceptional talent and a strong aptitude for teaching, in 2001,
Angela was one of a select few instructors worldwide invited to participate in Powerstrike's master trainer certification program in New York City, which
would qualify her to teach other instructors and assure her a place on the
official Powerstrike team. Still in the thick of childrearing, she chose not to
go. However, she has continued to update her skills and certifications and
has become one of the Lowcountry's most beloved and respected fitness
professionals. In addition to teaching group classes, she is certified as a personal trainer, working with individual clients to help them lose weight and/or gain strength and, most importantly, to appreciate their bodies.
With a toughness tempered by a tender heart, Angela motivates and
inspires people of all ages, sizes and abilities to reach their fitness goals. She encourages women not to be intimidated by gyms or other members who may be more fit. "Everybody is different, and not everybody is meant to be a size two," she said. "You have to work with what you are given and make that the best it can be."
Hometown: Appalachia, KY
Family: husband, Brad; sons, Chandler, age 16 and Christian, age 12
Guilty pleasures: a really good dirty martini and dark European chocolate
Loves to: dance. "The beat just gets into my bones!"
Describes herself as: a thrill seeker.
Words to live by: "Don't be afraid to be who you are."